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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1990 (DOST Vol. VII).
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Ranso(u)n, n. Also: raun-, rawn-, rann- and -so(u)ne, -sown(e. [ME raunsun (Ancr. R.), -son (1297), ranscun, -scon (Cursor M.), raunzoun (a1327), raunceon (1340), rancoun (Gower), obs. e.m.E. raunson, raenson (Caxton), already replaced by forms in -m by 1500, see Ranso(u)m n., OF rançon, ra(u)nson, etc., L. redemptiōn-.] Ransom, in the usual senses.

1. The action, fact or possibility of bringing about the release of a prisoner (oneself or another person) by payment of an agreed sum of money; the paying of money for this purpose.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii 4876.
Gif he be tane and is nocht dede … We sall to ransoun cum
c1400 Troy-bk. i 60.
& ȝhe … [be] done to ded But ony raunsone or remed
1419 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 299.
Four and twenti noblis of gold lent me … to my rannsoune
c1420 Wynt. vii 2096.
Twa thousand mark … To be payid in his rawnsown Out off Roxburgh
1456 Hay I 60/3.
Four consules the quhilkis the inymyes wald nocht lat to ransoun
Ib. 158/9.
Gif a man may be jugement ask gold or silver at his prisonare for ransoun
1531 Bell. Boece II 41.
He slew baith commonis and nobillis but ony favoure, mercy or ransoun
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1328.
To put him in presoun, Thair to remane without ony ransoun, Vnto [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. I 228/24.
The captane promissit them thair ransone frie gif [etc.]
Ib. II 118/32.
Mony presonaris quhilk payit thame gret sowmes of money in ransoune
(2) 1375 Barb. iv 83.
All the haldaris halely He bad distroy without ransoune
Ib. xi 577.
He and hors war born all doune, And slayne richt thair for-out ransoune
a1400 Leg. S. i 46.
Of Herrod presowne The angel brocht hym but ransone
?1438 Alex. i 499.
Outher sall thay all ouris be Or we sall all die but ransoun
Ib. 1794.
Baith helme and heid, without ransoun, Richt by the shoulder away he share
c1420 Wynt. iv 2253.
Thare kyng off curtasy … He lete pas, but rawnsone, fre
1535 Stewart 54456.
In strang presoun, but ransoun or frelag
Ib. 55129 heading.
How the Erle of Douglas was tane, and chaipit but ransoun be his seruand Ramsay
1611 Reg. Panmure I xxxi.
He wes relewit without ransone
(3) c1420 Wynt. vii 2085.
All the jowellis pretyows [etc.] … Than … ware payid for rawnsown Off Rychard, or he come off presown
Ib. 3156.
This kyng … Fre delyveryd off presown Payid ane sowme for his rawnsown
Ib. 3159.
The kyng swa lowsyd for his rawnsown, The Sarracenys resawyd the town
1478 Acta Aud. 72/2.
xx li. inglis for the ranson of Robert Simson Inglisman
1533 Bell. Livy II 177/28.
The money that was gottin for the ransoun of the saidis bodyis
(4) a1500 Lanc. 953.
And if so be ye lykith not to ma My ransone, if me leif to ga To the assemble
c1475 Wall. ix 1087. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 12/37.
The ransoun maid, the presoneris redemit
c1500 Makc. MS v 29.
Thi castalis towr & towne … may nocht al mak thi ransone Fra ded
1535 Stewart 55168.
For fourtie schilling his ransoun wes maid

b. fig., in religious contexts, with reference to Christ's redemption of mankind. a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 778.
O man, now luke how deir is thi ransoun
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 11/7.
Chryst with his blud our ransonis dois indoce
1567 G. Ball. 145.
Thy seruandis … For quhais ransoun thow did sair bleid

2. The sum or price paid, or to be paid, to procure the release of a person held in captivity.(1) 1375 Barb. xiii 681 (E).
That he till Ingland hame suld ga For-owtyn paying of raunsoune fre
c1420 Wynt. iv 1392.
Attyle Regule … to Cartage, in presowne Wes send, but lypnyng off rawnsoune
Ib. viii 6010.
Thir worthy Ogill has had till his presowne And syne delyweryd thame for rawnsoune
(b) ?1438 Alex. ii 5704.
The worthy man seruis ane ransoun richt
1456 Hay I 158/14.
It war a wrang merci to ger him pay ransoun
Ib. 158/34.
All Cristyn folk … has this custume to tak ransoun and finaunce
Ib. 174/11.
And he peroffer resonable ransoun
a1500 Henr. Bludy Serk 36.
He wald nocht gif of hir a sicht For gold nor ȝit ransoun
a1500 Lanc. 922.
That ȝhe Wold … mak the ransone wich that I may yeif
c1475 Wall. ii 150.
His kyn mycht nocht him [Wallace] get … Mycht thai hawe payit the ransoune of a king
1483 Acta Aud. *112/2.
The accioun … anent the thrid of the ransoune of Clemet of Skeltoune Inglisman
1513 Doug. x ix h. of ch.
The rich Magus na ranson mycht reskew
1535 Stewart 38198.
Thryis with his fa in mort battell wes tane, With ransoun ay redemit was agane
?1546 Ruddiman Epist. II App. 357.
And parsonis … be fred upoun ressonable ransonis
1546 Dundee B. Ct. II fol. 12b (11 Nov.).
xxv liis … for ane quarter of the said Willemis ranson & his foloschip quhare for he wes haldine in Berwick
1567 Acts III 31/1.
Anent … takin of the presonaris be theuis or bandis for ransounis
a1568 Bann. MS 246a/9.
Thair is no ransoun may me lows nor bynd Nor ȝit no confort may expell my wo
1572 Acts III 75/2. 1575 Reg. Privy C. II 275.
All bandis … for entre of presoneris or pament of ransonis unlauchfullie takin or gevin [shall be] dischargeit for evir
1596 Dalr. I 333/5.
He was redeimet with a ransoune of ane hunder libs stirling
(2) 1398 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 38.
Al thai … sal haue thair ravnson restorit til thaim
c1420 Wynt. vi 1438.
That gold … payid all owt hys rawnsowne
Ib. viii 6685.
1456 Hay I 182/29.
I can nocht say that he aw to pay his ransoun
a1500 Lanc. 931.
That I mycht pas, my ranson for to fech
c1500 Harl. MS 4700 259b2.
He … that slais his fallowis presonar … sall pay his ransoun to his takar
1531 Bell. Boece II 49. 1547 Perth Guildry 249 (6 May). c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 848.
The Inglis capitane … Held thame … Till thay had payit thair ransoun

b. fig., in religious use. c1450 Cr. Deyng (S.T.S.) 69.
Nan was worthy … to pay that ransone for the oreginall syne
1490 Irland Mir. II 32/32.
His precius lif … is a precius and hie ransone
Ib. 43/10.
I haue deit on the croce I haue pait the ransoune for mankind
15.. Dunb. App. ix 4. 1581 Burne Disput. 9b.
Not onlie to haue payit our ranson … bot also to apply the said ranson vnto vs

c. fig. To pay (a or one's) ransoun (with a weapon), to kill, or be killed, in battle. ?1438 Alex. i 125.
Bot with thair swordis to pay ransounis Thay tuik na tent to tak presounis
c1475 Wall. ix 1092.
Now he sall de; with help of Goddis grace He com to pay his ranson in this place
Ib. viii 522.
Thai … With aspre wapynnys payit thar ransoune

d. A kingis … ransoun, a large sum of money. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 16134.
Quha thame mycht haue had Off gold [MS glod] a kingis ransoun micht haue made
c1475 Wall. vi 904.
I had leuir at myn awn will haiff thé … Than off pur gold a kingis gret ransoune
c1500 Fyve Bestes 132.
A kyngis ransoun it was worth & maire
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4767. 15.. Clar. v 1874.
Ane croune … That worth ane kingis ransoune war

e. A sum paid to induce someone to behave in a particular way. — c1475 Wall. viii 873.
We wald gyff ransoun, To pas your way, and der no mayr the toun

3. specif. A sum of money paid to obtain pardon for a criminal or to have him released from punishment. 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 21.
Na man sall take theifebot for theift. And gif anie man receaues ranson for ane theif [etc.]
Ib. (Latin) ii 29b marg.
Ransoun or thiftbute

4. comb. In ransoun-frie. 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 50.
To pas … in Ingland, ransone frie
c1650 Spalding II 179.
Prince Robert … is ransoun frie put to libertie

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"Ranson n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Feb 2024 <>



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